Saturday, March 01, 2008

2008 NFL Draft Stock Watch: Combine Consensus, part 2

Following up on last night's post—and sticking to the same method I used following the Senior Bowl—here are my top five guys who helped their stock at the Combine, limiting myself to the players who received two or fewer mentions in yesterday's sources.

1. Andre Caldwell, WR, Florida
At 6'1" and 200 pounds, Caldwell ran the forty in 3.7 seconds: tied for the third best time among wide receivers. He added a 6.75 in the 3-cone drill (third among receivers) and a 4.11 in the 20-yard shuttle (second). Add that to his solid performance at the Senior Bowl practices—not to mention the game itself where he scored the winning touchdown on an end around—and a college career that saw him catch 78% of the passes thrown his way, and you have a player who has moved himself up to late first/early second round territory.

2. Trevor Laws, DT, Notre Dame
Just like his game, Laws just keeps coming on in these post-season events. He's another prospect who has backed up a strong Senior Bowl week with a great performance at the Combine. His 35 bench press reps were tied for third among all players. He ran a relatively smooth 5.06 forty (third among defensive tackles), while his 30.5" vertical jump was the best among DTs. If Laws hadn't already worked his way up to second round consideration, he surely has now.

3. Jason Jones, DE, Eastern Michigan
I've sung his praises before, and I'm surprised Jason Jones hasn't moved up higher on draft boards around the Web. Checking in at 6'5" and 273 pounds, Jones ran about a 4.75 forty, basically the same as Chris Long. His broad jump was 10'3", third among defensive linemen behind only Long and Vernon Gholston, and he posted a 4.23 in the 20-yard shuttle (third behind Curtis Gatewood and—you guessed it—Chris Long). I keep thinking one of these days they're going to start talking about him as a mid-to-late first round pick. More likely, though, he'll be a steal for somebody in the second.

4. David Roach, S, TCU
Roach looked surprisingly fluid in the drills, and he stood out from many of the other safeties in this year's generally weak class of prospects. At 6 feet and 210 pounds, Roach posted a good 4.51 forty time. His 38" vertical jump was best among safeties and tied for second among all DBs (behind Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's 38.5"). Roach's 6.88 3-cone drill was third among safeties (ninth among DBs); his 4.15 20-yard shuttle was also third among safeties (tied for ninth among DBs); and his 11.11 60-yard shuttle was first among safeties and second among DBs (again behind only DRC). Though no one's talking about him, Roach has moved himself up from a sixth- or seventh-round guy to a fifth rounder, at least in my eyes.

5. Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers
I'm surprised Rice didn't get a single mention in the source articles as one of the players who helped their stock at the Combine. While some draftniks already have him right there in the second tier of this great running back class, there's certainly a contingent who felt he lacked the speed to be a top prospect and that his size was a major concern. But Rice checked in at 5'8" and 199 pounds, a height and weight very similar to one of the best backs of all time. To prove his strength he put up a respectable 23 reps, then he ripped off a 4.4 forty, which is plenty fast enough, and went on to show great agility by posting a position-best 6.65 in the 3-cone drill. Rice's performance at the Combine all but guarantees he won't escape the second round; and by dispelling some concerns, he could sneak his way into the late first.

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